Harvesting came late September, early October, and I could tell by my students’ coal black hands. At first I thought they hadn’t washed their hands in at least a month. Then my host family explained that it’s actually the result of harvesting walnuts. Using a knife you stab the green top and twist, cracking down the sides. You’ll then have two pieces, one with the walnut shell and one without, so you twist the knife to get the walnut shell out. All this twisting and rubbing apparently releases the oils from the walnut, turning your palm black.

Our neighbors were harvesting one night, so Curt went out to help, and I went out to photograph. Basically they beat the tree with a big stick until all the walnuts come down. Then they are all collected. The outer green layer is cracked, and the walnut and shell is dried for 2-3 weeks.

I was cracking some walnuts with the help of a neighbor boy, and he told me when kids crack walnuts, they try to get a “turkey”. If they get the walnut out without breaking any pieces, they got a “turkey”. Personally I think it looks more like a brain.